Body camera footage released Thursday, April 15th, showed that 13-year-old Adam Toledo had his hands up and did not appear to be holding a firearm when a Chicago police officer shot him in the chest and killed him. The video appears to contradict claims made by a prosecutor last week that Toledo had a gun in his hand at the time.
The videos — a mix of body camera footage from the officers involved and third-party footage — were published on the website of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, the Chicago Tribute notes. The officer who shot Toledo was identified as Eric Stillman. Toledo’s family was allowed to view the footage Tuesday, April 14th, and issued a statement, saying, “The experience was extremely difficult and heartbreaking for everyone present and especially for Adam’s family.”
Toledo was shot and killed in an alley in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago on March 29th. Chicago police had responded to reports of gunfire in the neighborhood, spotted two people in an alley — Toledo and 21-year-old Ruben Roman — and began chasing them. On Saturday, April 10th, during a court hearing for Roman, a Cook County prosecutor, James Murphy, claimed they had video that showed Roman was the one firing the weapon that prompted the call to police.
Murphy went on to say that during the course of the chase, one officer tackled Roman and arrested him, while the other continued to chase Toledo. The prosecutor stated that the officer told Toledo to stop and show his hands. Murphy then claimed Toledo turned toward the officer with a gun in his right hand, at which point the officer said, “Drop it,” and then shot Toledo once.
As the Tribune notes, in close viewing of the body camera footage, a pistol-shaped object appears to be visible in Toledo’s right hand when the chase stops, but when he turns to face the officer with his hands up, they appear to be empty. Later, the footage shows the officer shining a flashlight on a pistol behind the fence where Toledo had been standing. Footage from a camera from a nearby parking lot appears to show Toledo tossing something behind the fence where the gun was later found moments before he turned around and was shot.
In a press conference prior to the release of the footage, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, said, “No family should ever have a video broadcast widely of their child’s last moments, much less be placed in the terrible situation of losing their child in the first place.” She also made an appeal for “calm” in response to footage of a police officer shooting a 13-year-old boy.
Lightfoot added that the comments the prosecutor made at Roman’s hearing over the weekend “were correct” as articulated. She also declined to confirm or deny whether Toledo was holding the gun when he was shot, citing the ongoing investigation.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said, “An attorney who works in this office failed to fully inform himself before speaking in court. Errors like that cannot happen and this has been addressed with the individual involved. The video speaks for itself.”